The Beatles, ‘In Sweden 1963-1964 Multiband remaster’ (Valkyrie Records VAL 078)
Introduction by Klas Burling / I Saw Her Standing There / From Me To You / Money / Introduction by the Norsemen / Roll Over Beethoven / You Really Got A Hold On Me / She Loves You / Twist And Shout – Karlaplans Studio, Stockholm, October 24, 1963. Drop In signature tune / Introduction by Klas Burling / She Loves You / Twist And Shout / I Saw Her Standing There / Long Tall Sally / Drop In signature tune – Arenateatern Grona Lund Park, Stockholm, October 30, 1963. Introduction / I Saw Her Standing There / You Can’t Do That / She Can’t Do That / She Loves You / All My Loving / Roll Over Beethoven / Can’t Buy Me Love / I Wanna Be Your Man – The Johaneshovs Isstadion, Stockholm, July 28, 1964. (52:22)
A guy sides up to you at a record store, ‘Buddy, I can make a pretty impressive Beatles bootleg sound BETTER!’Your reply, ‘No! Surely not!? Which one?’He says,’Sweden, 1963 but also Stockholm ‘63 and ‘64.’
Incredulous, you whisper, ‘Surely not the show that came out first via Swingin’ Pig, was one of the heart-stopping shows that the early professional Beatles played, lancing the intro of ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ in to the red as they played just as excitedly in the studio as we believe they might have done in the Cavern, after all these bootleg releases and minor upgrades, also featuring a partial inclusion on the first Anthology compilation as it was just that good?’
He sighs, he slips you a CD from the Valkyrie label and walks away to source an old pressing of ‘Codename Russia’ from the box of old Beatlegs that are in that saggy cardboard box near that dour looking man in an Eagles shirt who’s scrolling through his phone.
You park the CD in your pocket and continue to riff through the plastic sleeves, impressed with what you find but your mind racing, “Really? Is that a CD-R copy of ‘Sweet Apple Trax’ or an original pressing?”
You go home, hang up your jacket, you remember the disk that that dude slipped you as your fingers catch the jewel case, these purchases can wait until later, you have all weekend, let’s see if this ‘upgrade’ can REALLY sound any better than this guy insists it sounds.
You slip it in to your player, pop on your headphones, press play; it’s on!
I’ll admit I was skeptical at first – ANOTHER version of this show – Surely by now we have THE best version – either via Swingin’ Pig, Swedish Stereo Labs or the many, many other variations that there have been now but what a great choice to go with if this kind of material is going to be put to the test. Well, firstly, well done for getting this far through the review. Secondly, surprisingly, yes.
Utilising an app called ‘multiband’ to stretch out the width of the atmosphere while also expanding the bass and drums – also defined as; “Multiband splits an audio signal into separate channels: one for each of up to four frequency bands. It is useful for doing multiband processing using effects plugins that were not designed for multiband processing. For example, you could do multiband compression using two different compressor plugins, one for bass and a different one for treble frequencies. Or you could process a chorus or flanger effect on the midrange frequencies only, leaving the bass and treble clean.“
Though it’s a source that should be well drawn out by now, the work that has gone in to making the sound more spacious and big is a thrill – you are certainly there in the studio with the fabs and it’s a beautifully broad sound, encompassing and fulsome. It opens up a lot of sound that wasn’t immediately apparent previously – Mainly in the introductions and between songs. Some songs that you might have considered pale in comparison to the opener are lifted as the technology works it’s magic.
However, It has it’s limitations – Between tracks, the panning effect has the propensity to muffle some of the chatter, there’s no rhyme or reason to it, it’s brief though so it’s not a big deal. The mastering sometimes leaves the top end a little brittle, there are short waves of static that were dampened on the Swingin’ Pig release, but admittedly, that could very well be the No Noise limiting technology that was the big thing in 1989 (Hello, 30+ years ago!)
The other two shows from ‘63 and ‘64, the first from the ‘Drop In’ programme 7 days later don’t seem to suffer with the wobble between tracks that the first show suffers from somehow and, while they’re only a week apart, the Beatles energy is not quite as ‘on’ as it was for the radio show (The hot studio lights may have had something to do with this maybe), the music appears more open, broader, certainly less hissy as earlier appearances of this tape seemed to feature while the vocals are softened against the power of the music – sometimes to it’s detriment. I found lowering the treble helped in some instances though the percussion disappears almost completley in favour of Johns guitar towards the end of ‘Long Tall Sally’.
The live show at the Johaneshoves Isstadion, while approaching broadcast quality, managed to remove John and Ringo’s mic feeds – the mastering here does the best it can to bolster things but leaves it far too bright to really listen to properly. It’s far too sharp on the remaining vocals and when Ringo’s on cymbals, it becomes very noisy indeed.
7/10 for effort here – The first show is a revelation and sounds about as good as it could – if they could fix the muffled chatter between the tracks it would most certainly be my go to. The Drop In show could have been mastered a little more gently and didn’t need so much of a push that way. The final live show too was fine as it was and didn’t need this multiband trickery – just an upgrade. Personally, I feel the label might have been a little greedy trying to put all these shows together and should have stuck with a ‘best of’ (I see they’ve attempted a Tokyo 1966 set too) featuring shows that don’t necessarily stand together but all sounded as good as the technology allows.